Thomas Merrow and Ryder Noyes


In the beginning we had very different ideas of what exercise was. It was almost as if we had tunnel vision and could not look “outside of the box”, so to speak. We had the notion that heavy weights and compact exercise was one of the only ways if not the only way to exercise. When working with heavy weights it is very common to work on one muscle group at time instead of incorporating the whole body. Doing this type of exercise has repercussions; one of which is joint injuries and pain, and if the exerciser is not careful, he or she could be out of commission for an extended period of time. One of us has had multiple joint injuries including shoulder, back, and knee which are the results of using high weight and low repetition exercises.

At the University of Maine many of the male students use the high weight, low repetition theory of exercise. Most of the females (not all) students use the treadmill, elliptical, or run the track. These students have not yet had the luxury of being introduced to a different style of exercise and neither had we until we job shadowed with Vicki Sullivan. One of the unfortunate things that can occur when using heavy weight is the possibility of losing proper form and technique. We (the boys from Maine) had experimented with using low weight, high repetition exercise throughout our college careers, which seemed to feel better than the opposite high weight, low repetitions. When we began shadowing Vicki our concepts and ideas were turned inside out. The world of Gyrotonic® Gyrokenesis ® at Body Balance Institute is a very different and unique form of exercise, which is not hard on the joints.

When we met Vicki and began to follow her through her exercise routines, we were amazed to find a completely new way of looking at fitness. We entered her studio at Body Balance Institute, we noticed there were no bar bells or concentrated weight machines and the room was void of ellipticals and treadmills. Instead, our preconceptions of exercise equipment were replaced with machines that we were later introduced as the Gyrotonc Expansion System® and the Studio Reformer® machines among others. Very little did we know that after our two weeks of Gyrotonic®, our bodies had been stretched, reshaped, and our postures reformed. Through her practice, we learned there is an emphasis on three dimensional movements of the body and its fluids as well as low impact stretching that heal the body rather than stressing or injuring it. We had a great time experiencing the Gyrotonic® machine, participating in her Gyrokinesis classes, learning the basics of Pilates and Barre , and also relearning how to properly breathe.

During our stay in Jacksonville, we were also introduced to a man named Jeffery Fronk, owner of Fitness by Fronk located underneath Body Balance Institute. He led us through a regiment of exercises that were important for athletes who want high endurance performance on the field. Like Vicki’s, his exercises reflect low impact on the joints while creating endurance to maintain body posture in various forms. Too keep our heart rates up, he had us do three exercises in series focusing on the back, the core, and upper body each set. He led us through the exercises, changing them for each series, and then focused just on the arms at the end. After experiencing Fitness By Fronk and talking with him about his methodology of fitness, we felt he created exercise programs that would be great for anyone who wanted to get back in shape, maintain their fitness, or increase their performance.

Vicki introduced the both of us to the concepts that Tom Myers had about facia tissue. His concepts were very in depth and difficult to wrap our heads around after only watching the video once. One of the descriptions that stuck in our minds most vividly was the idea of fascial tissue wrapping our muscles like shrink wrap to keep our muscle in their proper form. Tom Myers stated that fascial connective tissue has tracks in our bodies, extending from head to toe, this is what he would call our “anatomy trains”. There are multiple pathways that fascial tissue follows. One of the examples that we can recall is the “train” that travels from the bottom of the foot, all the way up the back of the leg, stays on the back part of your pelvis, up the erector spinae (lower to upper back), and to the back of the head. So using this pathway of fascia if there was an injury sustained in the lower extremity (leg) there is a possibility of pain somewhere such as the erector spinae. This was a very basic and general explanation, but Tom Myers goes much, much further into these “anatomy trains”.

Gaining muscle weight does not always result in a stronger body. The body is like a machine that moves together and one malfunction could potentially affect the body as a whole. With low impact exercises and our newly gained knowledge of fascial tissue on our side, the combination of all of these new concepts has changed our vision of exercise.